You Knew This Was Coming: Obamalympics
No matter how you feel about Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics, it is undeniable that Mayor Daley has been politically strategic about bringing one of his largest pet projects to fruition. From the get-go, Daley had enough foresight to recognize the power of a potential Obama presidency in relation to Chicago’s chances, bringing Obama on board to support the bid way back in the spring of 2007. Obama showed up at the city’s USOC Candidate City rally last year and the IOC Candidate City rally last June, each time making a speech that tied the Chicago 2016 bid to his candidacy for president.
Almost as soon as the country knew that Obama would be its next president, this question starting popping up: what does this mean for Chicago’s Olympics bid? Answer: Daley has a lot to be really happy about right now. (While other candidate cities are more than a little worried).
As Obama gave his acceptance speech Tuesday night, the cameras were rolling on the 240,000+ supporters who came to the rally in Grant Park, backdropped by the lovely Chicago skyline. "Last night gave us a global opportunity to show the city's beautiful skyline, its lake and parks," said Chicago 2016 Bid Chief Patrick Ryan. What also bodes well for Chicago’s reputation is the fact that no arrests or serious incidents occurred at the rally, a testament to the city’s ability to smoothly manage a large-scale, impromptu event – or maybe, more realistically, the good behavior of its citizens.
On a general scale, the country’s willingness to elect a multi-racial leader has been predicted to have a grand effect on America’s standing in the world, with international polls showing that an Obama presidency was preferred to a McCain one by a scale of 3-1. A long-time goal for Daley in hosting the Olympics in Chicago has been to help dispel “ugly American” stereotypes and to show that America can play nice. (Not that the Olympics haven’t been hosted in the U.S. before, but our international reputation has suffered since the ‘02 games in Salt Lake City).
But the kicker – and most worrisome to Olympic officials in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid – is the reality that Obama could be appearing in front of the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen as part of the Chicago 2016 presentation team, making the case for the city that he has been intimately familiar with for the past 20 years. As Obama likes to say, “I have to let you know that in 2016, I'll be wrapping up my second term as president - [Crowd cheers] - so I can't think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley...as president of the United States and announcing to the world, 'Let the games begin.' ''
Image via Minneapolis Red Sox